How to Communicate With an Angry Person

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We encounter many angry people in our daily lives. These are people who may not be able to control their feelings and reactions. Unfortunately, they take out their anger on other people. When someone gets angry, it can be difficult to keep his emotions in check when he deals with a situation. Sometimes, anger can get out of control. Communicating with an angry person means remaining calm and patient. You also need to listen effectively and help him find a solution to the problem.

Don’t respond with anger. When someone else is angry, especially at you, it can be easy to get angry as well. But when you are trying to communicate with an angry person, it’s better for you to keep your own anger out of it.

  • Calm yourself down before you respond. Force yourself to stop and take a few deep breaths. Maybe even count to five (or 10 if you need more time). Remember that the other person’s anger likely has nothing to do with you.

Maintain emotional distance. Don’t take this person’s anger personally. Instead, step outside of the direct line by transforming your feelings into curiosity about the person’s anger. Ask yourself questions like: “This person is really angry. I wonder what got them so upset?”

Speak calmly and slowly. Don’t raise your voice or speak in a tone that conveys anger. Take a couple of deep breaths if you need to, and speak with a level, calm voice with a normal volume.

Use non-threatening body language. Having open, welcoming body language can help diffuse another person’s anger. They will see that you are not being antagonistic. Some positive body language includes:[2]

  • Maintaining eye contact (but not staring the person down)
  • Standing or sit with your arms at your sides, not crossed in front of you
  • Standing at a slight angle, instead of facing the other person straight on
  • Becoming aware of the distance between yourself and the angry person. Avoid encroaching on the other person’s personal space as a way to avoid making them uncomfortable or angrier. Giving them space also means that, should they try to strike you, you will be able to move out of the way.
  • Gently touching the other person’s shoulder, if they will allow it. Keep in mind that touch isn’t always appropriate. If the angry person is a spouse or close friend, then a touch may be appropriate. If the angry person is a customer or client, it would not be appropriate.

Don’t provoke the angry person. When you know a person’s anger triggers, you might push their buttons to provoke them to anger. This may or may not be deliberate. But when someone is angry, try not to do things that you know will make them angrier or feel less respected.